Melody and words have been a powerful influence in my life. As a little girl, I started recording my rambling ideas on a color-coded tape player before I could even read. Since then, writing and music have become a part of my daily life as a music therapist, songwriter and girl who can't keep from singing. A well asked question, a haunting melody--these can transform life from the mundane to the beautiful.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Walking Into The Storm

In this musical blog, I found myself being drawn to Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 (p. 319 in 1,000 Recordings Hear Before You Die) that was given to me by a family member years ago.   This is music for a journey, not an easily accessible pop song that can be devoured in a couple of minutes.   Instead, this music is slow moving, emotional, sorrowful and slightly foreboding.   Perfect Christmas music, right? The first 13 minutes of the album are nothing but slow moving strings, painting the background for what is to come. Then enters a soprano, the voice of a grieving mother at the loss of her son. The second movement of the album contains a prayer found written on the wall of a Gestapo Prison cell in Poland.  The singer increases her lament, asking for guidance from the Blessed Virgin, desperate for some answers. The last movement ends with another prayer to God, as the mother expresses, what I have to believe is her greatest fear in not knowing what has happened to her son:

He lies in his grave
And I know not where
Though I keep asking people

Oh, sing for him
God’s little song-birds
Since his mother cannot find him

Throughout the whole work, it’s as if you are sitting in a movie and you know that the character is walking into something, but you can’t quite tell if it will be good or bad. This album to me is not only about sorrow but also at walking into your greatest fear. I have to believe (although I don’t know from experience) that a fear of every parent is not being able to protect your children and that this album is the journey of a mother facing that very fear.

What are you afraid of? Snakes, heights, the dark, death, the unknown future? It seems that there is always something that can paralyze us and the last thing that we want to do is to walk into that fear. It’s much easier to run away, avoid the fear or just pretend that it isn’t there and hope that it will magically go away.

I recently went on a walk with a friend of mine and she was sharing with me some of the fears that she was facing as a soon-to-be mother. She asked the question of, what if, instead of asking God to take away our fears, we name our fears and ask God to walk with us in the midst of them? How could that transform us?  The unknown, the questions and all the things that we can’t control?

As we enter into the winter season this month, I was reflecting back on a winter that I spent on a trip driving through Minnesota several years ago. It was a crazy snowstorm and I was driving on a two lane road in my little stick shift red Ford Escort. Definitely not the sturdiest car for this kind of weather, let’s just say that. The conditions were so bad, all you could see was white in front of you. I remember looking ahead and seeing a freeway overpass in front of me with two large posts and simply aiming for in between those two posts, hoping that there wasn’t a car coming the other way on the other side of the road that I would crash into.

How many times have my own fears felt like that snowstorm?   How terrifying it can feel to walk (or drive!) into that fear? How somedays all I can do is aim for the middle and ask God to somehow help me navigate so that I don’t crash somewhere in there. As crazy as it feels, how can I ask God to walk with me in that fear, not knowing how it will come out on the other side?  

In this Christmas season, I’ve been thinking about the fears that Mary must have been feeling when she was told that she was to be the mother of Jesus. She certainly didn’t know what she was walking into.  What did the angel first say to her? “Run away, because it’s going to be really hard!” Or maybe “Hopefully God will pick someone else because you seem unsettled by this idea.”   Nope. The angel reminded her not to be afraid and that God would be with her in the midst of her fear.

“The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored!  The Lord is with you.’   Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.   But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  (Luke 1:28-33)

As you are entering your fears, your own storms, I encourage you to listen to the Symphony No. 3 (click for a link) and allow yourself to sit with your fears.  Let God meet you there. Then sit with the words of Mumford and Sons' "After the Storm" (click for the link) and find hope in the fact that God is there with you in the midst of it all.   

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.

Lord, this Christmas season, I am asking you to meet us in the midst of our fears, not knowing how everything will turn out. Give us the faith to believe that you have great good intended for our hearts and lives and enable us to trust that you won’t leave us, even if it doesn’t look like we thought it would.  Remind us of the hope that you have promised us in an unlikely Savior, born to a mother who was learning how to trust you more deeply as well.  Amen. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Improvising My Story

Hello, hello.   Yes I have finally found my way back to writing an entry into this blog after a little break.    My next stop through 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before you Die, finds my finger scanning page 493, which just so happens to describe the very talented pianist Brad Mehldau, and his album Largo.   

What I find fascinating about Mehldau is not only his genius but also his chaos.   Trained at Berklee School of Music, he is one of the most talented pianists of our time.   He is an improviser and embraces the wonder that can occur from a spontaneous musical idea that is expressed directly, in real time. But he also has a deep respect for the formal structure of music.  The two sides of his personality—the improviser and the formalist—play off each other, and the effect is often something like controlled chaos.   

Mehladu possesses an amazing ability to tell a good story through his music, whether creating his own songs or re-working someone else’s.   I had the privilege of seeing him live in concert several years ago at the Del Rey Theater in LA and the experience was nothing less than amazing.   One of the most amazing songs to hear live was his rendition of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.” The way he draws out the melancholy melody and re-sets it in a new light is incredible.   He draws you in with the sweet melody, stirs up chaos in the middle with the inventive rhythm section and provides the calm after the storm with his ending.    Mehladu’s tunes have a strongly felt narrative arch, whether it expresses itself in a beginning, an end, or something left intentionally open-ended.   Donald Miller describes the importance of this narrative arc in his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years when he says, “We were designed to live through something rather than to attain something, and the thing we were meant to live through was designed to change us.   The point of a story is the character arc, the change.”  In Meldau’s case that character arc is not only felt it his music.    In real-life, this arc could have been his personal struggle with heroin for years and his ability to overcome, to change and become something different in the midst of his chaos. 

Largo is a music term that means “slow movement,” two words that have not been characteristic of my life recently.   I keep waiting for life to slow down and finally have realized that it will only happen if I make it!   It feels good to finally be creating that space, slowing down long enough to discern all that is happening around and in me.  

I’ve been reflecting on how this idea of telling a good story, on how MY life can tell a good story.  I think at times I’ve tried to make my life a better story, tried to give more inspirational moments to make it have meaning.   What I have been learning is that my story is not about me, but what God is doing through me in my story.   How he is using the messy parts, the broken parts, the exciting parts and the parts I still don’t understand—to bring his gospel to the world.   Somehow, though I don’t always understand how, he is weaving it together.   And great character development involves conflict and the ability to want to overcome that conflict in a good story. 

Mehldau’s inventive music is defined by his ability to tell a good story, to improvise old melodies in a new light.  My prayer is that I would have the ability to trust God with my life to be able to re-work the story of my life into stories of love, redemption, forgiveness, reconciliation, and surprise.  I believe the gospel is shared when we dare to tell the world around us how God is moving in our lives.

I recently finished a fantastic book called Bittersweet and have found great encouragement in the pages of the book to tell my own story.   One of my favorite quotes from the author Shauna Niequist says, “This is what I want you to do: tell your story.  Don’t allow the story of God, the sacred, transforming story of what God does in a human heart to become flat and lifeless.  If we choose silence, if we allow the gospel to be told only on Sundays, only in sanctuaries, only by approved and educated professionals, that life-changing story will lose its ability to change lives.”

So go improvise your song, write your poem, and create your manifesto.  Your story must be told.

“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our heart by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  (Romans 5:3-5)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Bittersweet Symphony

The turning of the year always brings with it a certain amount of reflective moments. Remembering the bittersweet moments of the last year and the ones to come. So as 2011 fades and 2012 takes shape, I find myself turning contemplative and find my music dial resting these days on Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” as this music blog continues to unfold.

This music many consider to be one of the greatest works of modern classical music, in it’s churning melodic lines and long sustained, at times unresolved, chords that seem to hang in the air. Many say that is full of pathos and cathartic passion, leaving not a dry eye to those who listen to it. The “Adagio” was broadcast over the radio at the announcement of Franklin D Roosevelt's death. It was also played at the funeral of Albert Einstein and John F. Kennedy. And in 2001 it was played to comemerate the victims of the September 11 attacks. It seems to hold this tension of grief and hope together in the same phrase. Bittersweet.

When I hear the word bittersweet, I immediately think of chocolate. Yes, I have always loved chocolate, no matter what form it comes in, even from an early age. Once when I was four, I locked myself in the bathroom and when I finally came out, my mom discovered that I had eaten an entire EX-LAX bar…wait a minute, a chocolate flavored EX-LAX bar. I had no idea that it wasn’t a candy bar but learned very quickly that there is a difference. A big bittersweet difference.

Over the last year, I have learned more about a practice called “lectio divina” which means “spiritual reading.” The essence of this practice seems simple: to read God’s Word without trying to analyze it. Simply read it. Once. Twice. Three. Four times. Let the words soak in and notice what words you seem drawn to. This is actually so much harder to do than I thought at first. First of all, it is hard for me to sit still. My multi-tasking brain wants to skim the passage or verse and then move on to the next thing on my to do list. After I have finally figured out how to keep my mind from jumping to the next thing, the last thing I want to do is to keep re-reading a passage. I mean, I am a person who usually doesn’t like to re-read a book (I already know what’s going to happen at the end so why bother?) so why continue to re-read a passage again and again? But what I am finding is that in the slowing down, I am actually able to see more deeply, more clearly, what I think God is slowly trying to show me.

So I thought I would try this tonight while listening

to this beautiful, contemplative music. I turned to the nearest passage I have which happens to be a painting that my mom and I did recently that now hangs in my bedroom. The painting reads, “Those who hope in the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) And as I turn these words over again and again, certain words begin to stand out to me. Hope. Renew. Run. Not Weary. Walk. Not Faint. I begin to notice this balance of opposites that this passage seems to hold together. Running but not getting tired. Walking but not fainting. I find myself reflecting on how this last year has been filled with the holding of opposite tensions of grief and joy, pain and hope. Bittersweet.

As I grow and live more, I am realizing that life is not about learning how to move away from pain or trying to pursue only happy moments, but it’s learning how to hold the pain and the joy at the same time. To realize that you can grieve the past while still hoping for tomorrow. So, I wanted to share with you a little window into this process for me, a song that I wrote over the last year called “Healer.” My prayer is that you will allow yourself to grieve and hope as you reflect back on all that 2011 contained and move forward into a bright, new 2012. A beautiful bittersweet symphony.


Words and music by Angela

We are spinning, spinning and can’t find reprieve

Fear and doubt make it hard to breathe

There is pain that I don’t understand

Sorrow floods in, makes it hard to stand

But I see the clouds breaking as hope ascends

To strengthen our wounded hearts

To heal and mend


You are our Savior

You are our Healer

You hold us close to your chest

You are our Comfort

You make us lie down and rest

In you

We are waiting, waiting for this season to turn

Joy and peace we pray, we long, we yearn

The winter has been here for far too long

Where is our freedom? Our hopeful song?

Jesus, we rest

Jesus, we rest

In you

Monday, October 24, 2011

All I Really Want

Okay, I'll admit it. There are some emotions that I'm just not very comfortable with feeling. So I thought it was a little ironic (don't ya think?) that I found myself cracking open the cover of the album Jagged Little Pill by Alanis Morissette from my high school years as I continue in this musical exploration.

The album title is so appropriate for this album because lyrically and emotionally, it’s hard to swallow. The album kicks off with the song “All I Really Want” as she takes you on a very sarcastic, emotional ride through a minute-by-minute recount of her anger at so many injustices in her life from failed relationships in love to disillusionment with God and life in general. With that characteristic angst in her voice, she sings/shouts “You, you, you oughta know.” Her voice is honest, raw, and a just a little more than abrasive at times. Yet, somehow it’s refreshing to hear someone just say it like it is, no holds barred, and let it all come undone.

In my work as a music therapist, I have the interesting and crazy job (it’s okay, you were thinking it) of teaching about everything from how to go to the potty to how to read emotions on the faces of others. Things I never expected to do in my lifetime? Make a video complete with dancing and masks about feelings. Enter Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse and the song “Feelings.” With a dog puppet, four kids, a band and Handy Sam in tow we sing, “I feel mad my face is scrunched tight. I stomp around and want to start a fight. I feel mad.”

Yet, the reality is, it’s much harder for me to say those words, “I feel mad.” Anger doesn’t feel like an emotion that I should allow myself to have, right? Shouldn’t I just see the positive in every circumstance and how it will all work out in the end? Anger always feels like one of those out of control emotions. Having recently seen the movie Bridesmaids, I have images

of Kristen Wiig as Annie as she snaps and throws a tantrum, destroying the decorations and food at her best friend’s wedding shower. Unchecked anger. Whoa.

And yet I have begun to realize that anger can be the fuel for so much good in the world. In some strange way, I need to let myself sit with it. And yes, it’s okay to feel angry, to scream, to yell and to shout at the heartache of this broken world. It seems that it isn’t until we really get angry about something that it prompts us to action. Anger at the injustice of poverty causes us to want to stand together and to start a movement to change that reality for others. Anger at evil in the world causes us to want to stand and fight for the good. Anger at the lies that come all around us forces us to stand together as a community, as a church, and to slice through darkness with truth and light.

In the midst of this contemplation, I pulled out the album again and started scanning the list of the familiar songs. “You Learn,” “Hand in My Pocket, ”Forgiven.” Wait a minute, “Forgiven?” I don’t remember that song on here. It’s interesting to me that on this album so filled with anger, this song is stuck in the middle. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. The flip side of anger is forgiveness. How can we move forward if we hold on to this? Anger can be like hot stones, something we can’t hold on to for very long. We can hold on to it long enough to wake us up but then we’ve got to let it go. That’s so much harder to do. Forgiveness is a much harder pill to swallow.

How can I learn to do that? To let go of those stones, to let people see my scars and to slowly open my hands and forgive those people and circumstances that have wounded me. It’s when that release happens that I’m able to walk forward and trust God at the deepest level of my hurt. I am able to find new life, joy and a greater capacity to love others. And as I stand with all my scars from past wounds, I begin to see that my Savior has some scars on his hands too.

As I was writing this, I learned that today kicks of National Forgiveness Week culminating on this Friday, October 29th. Okay, God you’ve got my attention now. I get it. Forgiveness is important. This week my prayer is that God would give me the strength to let go, forgive and create new spaces in my life for new things. And THAT is all I really want.

“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.” (Matthew 6:12)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Finding Home

Summer is one of my favorite times of the year. I remember waking up so early (yes, I used to be early) and sitting on the front porch eating breakfast with a neighborhood friend because my mom said it was too early to play in the house. At the Neve household during the summer months (thanks to a very creative mother!) we had our own Olympic competition and medal ceremony with my cousins despite being in a backyard. For five summers I worked as a camp counselor at Lake Okoboji and had experiences that transformed my life. And summer was never really complete until I had picked sweet corn from the grandparents’ farm in Iowa. So it felt pretty natural that as I’m reflecting back on my Midwest home that I find myself tonight drawn to album about a neighboring Midwest state, Illinoise, by Sufjan Stevens. The concept album features songs referencing places, events and people related to the state of Illinois. (He also did one for Michigan.)

Aside from our common Midwest upbringing (he was born in Detroit), there are so many beautiful and amazing things about his music that make his inclusion in the book, 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die, so important. First of all, he plays a lot of the instruments on all of his albums (oh, the power of multi-tracking), including piano, banjo, guitar, drums and various other instruments. Maybe it’s a throw back to my drum major days at Hoover High School (don’t laugh, yes, I did that), but his music can feel like a marching band one minute, orchestra the next and then all of a sudden an intimate singer-songwriter show. He definitely is a performer, complete with costumes, cheerleading outfits and even sometimes bird wings at his shows.

Secondly, his lyrics are rare, honest, longing and filled with emotion. Even the title of his album draws you in, (Come on! Feel the) Illinoise! “Don’t just watch from a distance, take the time to sit with this album,” he seems to be saying. His intimate lyrics can’t be more on display than they are with his song about a personal tragedy of a girlfriend who passes away from bone cancer on an Illinois state holiday “Casmir Pulaski Day.” After she passes, he sings “all the glory that the Lord has made and the complications when I see His face.” There is something about honest, unguarded emotion that resonates with people. That resonates with me.

How I long for home, sometimes in a tangible way, as I long for simpler (or so it seems looking back) days of growing up in Iowa. And yet, I find myself standing in all of this complicated reality, which really just leaves me with a lot of questions to ask God when I finally get to see him face to face. Although I try so hard sometimes to shelter myself from pain, from loss, my ability to lean into the grief may be one of the most important rhythms I learn how to weave in my life. I hope that this stretching and aching will enable me to love people in a deeper way and to have greater empathy for those hurting.

I have been reading Henri Nouwen’s book The Road to Daybreak recently. The book is his intimate diary of his search for a home. A Catholic priest teaching at Harvard, he decides to leave academia to serve at a home for adults with special needs, a place which he calls “closer to the heart of God” and where he finally learns that he has “come home.” Why would he choose to spend the final years of his life with people with mental and physical disabilities?

In the midst of this, I find myself scheduled to go and see Jane (name changed) for a piano lesson. Living in a group home, Jane is 47 years old and has Down’s Syndrome. How can she contribute to world? Her days consist of working at a thrift store to raise money for the hospital (she doesn’t get paid), dinners with her housemates, visits with family and now music lessons. Greeting me with a huge smile, she was eager to play “When The Saints Go Marching In” for me. As I listen to her play, the questions come, “How can she be so content?” I wonder. She doesn’t have fancy toys, a career, a boyfriend or even freedom to go where she wants to go when she wants to go. I couldn’t help but get teary eyed knowing that on some level she had a much greater understanding of peace, joy and God’s presence than I would ever know. As she stood up to give me a hug goodbye and I am still contemplating my questions, she mentions something about growing up at “Lake Okoboji” and I realize that she is from Iowa too. In that moment, I realize that God is trying to teach me (in a not so subtle way!) through this Iowa connection, something about our home in Him.

These days, as I am crawling out my grief, as I am renewing my heart, as I am seeking a simple, hope-filled life, I am realizing that home is less about a physical state and more about a state of my heart. Learning to lean into grief, to let go of places that don’t fit anymore, to make my life more simple and content and to not be afraid to “Come on! Feel!” knowing that the aching will be made beautiful in time, amidst all the questions. And I think that sounds home.

“I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:10-11

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Extraordinary Moments with a Little Help From My Friends

I couldn’t get very far into this musical journey, without visiting the Beatles and one of their most acclaimed recordings Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I picked up a vinyl copy (yes, the black round kind that spin) on a trip to the UK a few summers back. So, tonight I dusted off the record, and dropped the needle to see what this music would stir up.

My introduction to the Beatles involves two very different memories. First of all, my dad would play the records and I remember him teaching me what a "beat" was through those moments as we cranked the music so loud that it would shake the second floor. (sorry mom!) The second part of this introduction was via Sesame Street when I heard the song “Letter B” played by a group of small insects. Way to go Sesame Street for providing humor for adults that was above kids’ heads at the time. Whatever the case, the Beatles have definitely woven their way into my life.

One of the things that is so appealing to me about the Beatles is seeing how those four friends came together, struggles and all, and did life together through their music. On my trip to the UK, I had the opportunity to walk the streets of Liverpool and visit some of the places that inspired some of the most famous songs of the Beatles, everything from the “Strawberry Fields Forever” to a street named “Penny Lane” to the church parking lot where John and Paul first met playing a show for a youth group. What struck me was how ordinary these places were, nothing spectacular, just the everyday lives of normal people. Yet, the way these friends captured their memories, their dreams and transformed it into music was anything short of ordinary. What if Paul had never met John in that church parking lot?

There are so many amazing songs on this album but the one that resonates with me right now is “A Little Help From my Friends.” I find myself sitting on the couch with the singer and wondering, “If you could see all my faults, even if I sang out of tune, would you stay here with me or would you walk out the door?” That is such a hard question to ask because it is hard to ask for help. It is hard to admit that I am not strong enough to handle the messiness of things on my own.

Why are we so afraid to let people in? It seems easier to give love and support to others than it is to receive it ourselves. As a community, as a body of Christ, we are meant to fit together, supporting each other. We need each other. When one falls down, we help each other up. And when we can’t hold ourselves up, we find the hands of friends on either side of us helping us to continue to stand.

The last few months have been particularly hard and yet I have experienced the love of Christ in very real and tangible ways through my friends and family: cards of encouragement, phone calls from states away, text messages just checking in, long walks, coffee dates, prayers in divinely appointed moments, sitting with me as I externally process (again!), listening to yet another song I’ve written, and making me laugh when all I want to do is cry.

Through these seemingly ordinary moments, God is doing extraordinary things to transform us, to bind us together and to help us realize that we are not alone because we can get by with a little help from our friends.

“If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting for a Good Beginning

The adventure continues as I use the book 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die as the canvas to paint my musings about life. So for my second blog entry, I decide to browse through the book for something completely different. How about Icelandic rockers that sing in an invented language? Perfect. Sigur Ros’ Agaetis byrjun, the only album of theirs featured in the book. The title can be translated “A good beginning" which seems like a great place to venture for the second entry.

There are so many things that captivate me about this music, which some people either find really fascinating or just really weird. First of all the lyrics are sung partly in a made-up language many call “Hopelandic” and the guitarist in the band is known for using a cello bow on the electric guitar. Secondly, there are beautiful themes, soaring orchestrations, seemingly transcendent, that anchor the music. Some have said that when they listen to it, it feels intensely spiritual. Lastly, the music is usually slow moving and churning with no apparent hook so you aren’t tempted to sing ridiculous words for hours on end in your car. When I turn on this album, I find myself slowing down, lighting a candle, crawling into my bed with my journal and wanting to contemplate the deeper things in my life. It gives me the space to breathe. There is no way that I can rush through this music. I have to wait. Ah, patience.

The word patience stirs up so many things for me. At the sound of this word in conversation, I have been know to spontaneously burst into song (surprise surprise) with a rendition of Herbert the Snail from a favorite childhood album, The Music Machine. “Have patience, have patience, don’t be in such in a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember that God is patient too. And think of all the times when others have to wait to you.” Such a simple song yet such a harder concept.

Recently, I have started doing Bikram Yoga, which I have to confess, sounded absolutely crazy the first time I heard about it. Do yoga moves in a room over 100 degrees, and sweat profusely for 90 minutes? Where can I sign up? Strangely, the slow process of doing each position, without rushing, stretching each muscle, forces my brain and body to slow down. As much as I want to run out of the room during Standing Tree Pose, I compel myself to stay in the room. And afterwards (having taken a long shower of course) I find myself less anxious and able to deal with what the day may bring. The heat, the letting go, and the slow stretching brings peace and strength.

These days, I find myself in a season of slow stretching and of waiting. There are moments of rest and times of peace but there are also times of general annoyance and me saying “Okay, I’ve got this lesson, can we move it along to the next part?”

We don’t like to wait do we? It feels like God sometimes speaks in His own made up language that we can’t understand at times when all we want is for Him to tell us what to do or what is coming next. He allows us to sit in our unanswered questions: Who will we marry? Will we have a family? Will our kids be okay? Should I take the job? Will our parents be okay? Yet, He gives us the ability to hear the large overarching themes in our lives that anchor us: He brings peace. He is forming our character. He compels us to stay in the room of our own life, to not give up. He is with us always. We draw close to Him and ask for His word to give us just enough light for the next step and the strength to continue to hope for what is around the bend. And that seems like a good beginning.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Take a Chance on Love

It is with careful steps that this bird walks onto the wire called the blogging world. Yes, I am the girl who signed up for a Twitter account (so that I could get a free burger from some place that was giving them away if you had an account) and has only tweeted one time. So, the one who never chirps on Twitter is now writing a blog! Brace yourself, I have no idea what is in store.

I was inspired by a book that I received one Christmas called 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die which includes reviews on all genres and decades of music from classical, jazz to rock. The tagline on the back of the book says “The Musical Adventure of a Lifetime” and that was really intriguing to me. What if I was to listen to albums from the book and then share whatever ideas or inspirations come forth from that?

So, here we go. I crack open the first page of the book and the first album entry: ABBA. What could be better for a Monday morning? I dust off the CD and start clicking through the songs to the hits “Dancing Queen,” “Take a Chance on Me,” and “Waterloo” and find myself wanting to have my own personal dance party complete with a hairbrush for a microphone.

What is it that I love about this music? Somehow when I listen to this, I find myself waking up inside, pushing aside my insecurities, and daring to be who I really want to be: vibrant, alive, courageous, and brave enough to have karaoke with my hair products. For 4 minutes and 4 seconds I can confidentially stand in the skin and identity of who Christ made me to be and sing “take a chance on me.” I want to be known for that—for wearing my heart on my sleeve no matter how messy or foolish that may seem. To love deeply.

Isn’t that our hearts’ desire? To be really seen, with all of our failings and fears, and to be accepted and loved anyway. In this season, I am learning to believe that, to really believe, that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. There is no place too far that we can go. Fear does not have a hold on us. We are compelled to love by a love that purses us. God laces up his running shoes and runs to find us to remind us of who we really are and how much he loves us. Once he finds us, he wants to have a dance party to celebrate.

And ABBA will probably be on the stereo.